Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Buggy-eyed Fears

I was blissfully unaware as I pulled the front door open to step into the evening air.

Moths, gnats and other flying insects were drawn to the light and as I waved them off, I glanced down to my right.  That's when I saw some THING clinging to the door just inches from my hand.

It was the biggest, ugliest bug I have ever laid eyes on. I wasn't going to whip out a tape measure at that moment, but it had to be almost 3 inches long.

I screamed.

I had to close the door, but this freaky, creepy crawly creature was mere inches from the knob.

I tried to slip my hand through the crack on the hinged side to coax the door closed.

It didn't work.

I debated leaving the door open, but feared it would make its way up the stairwell and into my apartment.

Unacceptable.

I whined and whimpered and called on Jesus as I made the decision to hold my breath, reach for the knob, and pull the door shut.

Success! 

I got into my car, skin crawling, and nervously looked around to see if it had followed me.

Paranoid? Hey, he could have flown...or crawled really fast...I didn't know if he had Super Bug powers!

My purpose in going out had been to pick up my son, and as we headed back home, I said "okay...now we're gonna pray that the HUGE, ugly beetle that was on the front door when I left, is gone."

As we approached the front step, my son told me to power up the flashlight app on my cell.  "I want to see what I'm dealing with" he said.

I fumbled with my phone, glancing toward where I'd last seen it and breathed a sigh of relief.

"I think it's gone".

Then I shined the light on the door.

There it was...right in the door jam next to the knob.

I screamed again

My son calmly used some papers in his hand to knock it to the ground and sweep it off the porch.

I knew that bug was still around, but now the way forward was clear and it was safe to move into the house.

I'm afraid all too often, I approach life's problems in much the same way as the encounter with that bug.

Although I've memorized "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6) the truth is, sometimes I don't go straight to prayer and I allow my fear to get a foothold.

Have you ever felt that way?

You're just cruising along one minute, and then panicked the next as you find yourself eyeball to eyeball with an unexpected circumstance?

Psalm 46: 1-3 promises "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."

Just like that bug was still somewhere once my son knocked it off the porch, our problems won't necessarily go away.  They may "roar and foam" or "quake", but handing over our fear allows God to step between us and our concerns and allows us to move forward in confidence, knowing He hems us in behind and before (Psalm 139:5).

So let's not allow problems, concerns, or fears hold us at bay.  Let's give them to God who isn't freaked out by them. 

Not even the great big ugly ones.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. I Peter 5:7


Photo credit Steffen Foerster - Dreamstime Stock Photos


Monday, July 7, 2014

Permission to Grieve

As I stood in the recessed archway of the now empty dining room, the memories came flooding back.

This was the spot that sold me on this house 28 years ago. 

I had been 8 months pregnant with my first child when we first walked through the front door, so I knew time was of the essence in finding a place bigger than our one bedroom apartment.

Still, I really didn't want to buy a semi, or as some call it, a duplex.  And I definitely didn't want to buy in the city.  But when I saw this perfect little alcove for my piano, it made me change my mind.

The plan was 5 years, then sell the house and move to someplace in Suburbia.

But plans rarely go, well, as planned, do they? 

We had a second child, money got tight, life took over, and time just flew.

So there I was, 28 years later, once again looking at the alcove, thinking about how much everything has changed.

The baby who was born just 2 weeks before we signed the mortgage papers is 28 now.  Married last October and considering a family of her own.  The second child is almost as old as I was when we bought the house.  I'm divorced - almost 4 years.  And my piano?  Given away to a friend because there was no place for it in my new apartment.

Yes, I've moved.  After a year of ups and downs, court papers and prayers, it seemed clear that God's plan was for me to leave this house.

But it's been more than just a move.  The past year has been one of loss. 

I hadn't thought of it that way at first.  I mostly thought of it as change. 

But the truth is, there have been many losses, large and small.  The house, the piano, the many things with sentimental attachment that had to be sold or given away because there's nowhere to store them.  The neighbors who have cared for me - cutting my grass, shoveling my walk, keeping a watchful eye on my home.  My space and my privacy - it is much harder to be undisturbed in a 4 room apartment than a 7 room, 3 story house.  Even the loss of sleep as I try to acclimate to a smaller, less comfortable bed.

I've wrestled with God over a lot of this.  Asked Him lots of questions.  I'm not angry.  Just kind of confused about how and where He's leading in all of this.  And kind of sad about all the loss.

I love Ephesians 3:20, but this current circumstance is certainly less than I've asked for or imagined. 

So I have to ask myself, does that make the promise any less true?

No.

God still loves me.  He's still in control.  Still working things together for my good.  Still able to do abundantly more than I can ask or imagine. 

But I can still mourn that which has been removed.

Yesterday, the sermon was on renewal.  The pastor closed by quoting Ephesians 3:20 and said "The altar is open.  If you have a burden, come forward and leave it here."  It isn't something we do every week in my church.  I didn't know the invitation would be given when I got there.

As I went forward and knelt, I couldn't pray.  Tears began to flow and they became unstoppable, silent sobs.  I stayed kneeling until the singing began again, then quickly slipped into my seat down in front.  I sat in the sanctuary until most were gone, not wanting to - not even sure I could - explain my tear-stained face.

My pastor came over and asked what was wrong.  I blurted out a mish mosh of everything, nothing, and I just don't know.  That's when he said to me "you've been through a lot lately Toni.  It's okay to give yourself permission to grieve."

I can't tell you how freeing that was. 

I'd been looking for the bright side in all of this a long time. And when friends encouraged me with "it's an exciting new chapter" I knew it was true, but couldn't always feel it. 

His words spoke such comfort to me.  We don't have to have it altogether all the time.  Life isn't tied up with a bow.  Sometimes, we experience loss.  And sometimes, we just need permission to grieve before we move on to those new chapters in life. 

And that's okay.









Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Trusting the Dream-Giver

We were in uncharted territory and there were a boat load of questions.
For years, we held Kid’s Camp (aka VBS) in our church in the suburbs. Well over 100 volunteers working with upwards of 200 kids.
But three years ago, God planted a bigger dream…to take that program and do it all over again in the inner city. Two Kid’s Camps in two months. The visionaries were excited…the detail-oriented, planning people thought it was crazy....
For the rest of the story, visit me over at God-sized Dreams today...I  pray you will be inspired to trust the Dream-giver to dream big!!